Mayan Experience

Some things you can explain to other people. Others have to be experience for themselves. No matter how much time and effort you put into attempting to recreate the experience, it cannot happen. It was so unique, so different, that reducing it to words seems impossible.

In the small village of San Antonio in the Sacatepéquez region of Guatemala, I participated in a traditional Mayan wedding ceremony. No, I did not get married. I was the father of the groom, but at times I felt as if I had a bigger role than the groom.

Having attend a traditional Guatemalan wedding during my first week in the country, I was able to see just how different weddings in this country were from my experiences with weddings in America. Even though Mayans live in Guatemala, their customs stretch back fast past the creation of the country. This includes traditions for weddings as well.

A Mayan bride will spend months creating gifts for almost every member of her fiancée's family. It requires lots of time and effort, but the end product signifies just how important they are to her. The groom on the other hand has the same duties as any other culture. He is responsible for finding a home and providing for his bride.

While participating in the ceremony, I attempted to learn the traditional dance that is performed after the wedding. I say attempt because it turned into more of a comedic visual for all the other people there. FYI, I cannot dance to save my life.

After the wedding, we ate traditional food that was amazing. Chicken mixed with rice in a soup along with homemade tortillas. I am pretty sure I ate more than I was supposed to, but I could not stop. It was delicious.

Along with the ceremony and food, I talked with the locals in Spanish for close to an hour about different nuances of their culture which fascinated me. In addition to participating in the culture, I made friends with many people who were more than happy to convey their culture to an outsider.

Bryan Clifton

Oklahoma City, OK